Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Leaning into Love by Lane Hayes Audiobook Release Blitz

Eric Schuster is a successful guy. He’s part owner of a highly successful tech firm, he has a supportive family and a great group of close friends. But something is missing. Or maybe he’s reacting to his business partner and ex’s wedding news. He knows his former lover is making a big mistake but he also knows it’s time to move on. And hopefully avoid falling for another friend.

Zane Richards is an avid sailor and surfer with a laid-back approach to life. He firmly believes there’s a time and place for everything if you’re willing to take a chance. Like letting his best friend know he’s interested in being much more than friends. Eric has always been half in love with Zane but going from friends to lovers isn’t an easy sell for someone protecting his heart. Eric will have to decide if he’s willing to risk it all by leaning into love.

Length: 2 hrs and 59 mins
Narrator: Seth Clayton

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Book 1
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~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

Zane refilled my glass and returned it to me with a naughty smirk. “You get kinda corny when you’re tipsy, Schuster. It’s cute.”


“Yeah. You get goofy. Your ears turn red and it makes the freckles on your nose stand out. Then you do that thing with your hair where you swipe your hand through it so many times that it looks like you just rolled out of bed.”

“Uh… okay. That’s embarrassing.” I searched for a reflective surface as I attempted to pat my unruly brown hair into some semblance of order. “I was going for debonair and I got bar mitzvah kid chic,” I grumbled.

Zane leaned forward and gave me an intense look I didn’t understand.

“You don’t have to be anyone but yourself with me, Eric. I like you just the way you are.” He sat back again and cocked his head. “So let’s talk about this stupid engagement party. What’s the dress code?”

“Um… it’s probably dressy casual,” I replied with a furrowed brow. I wanted to back up a sentence or two and analyze his words and dissect the meaning of “I like you just the way you are.”

“The usual oxymoron,” he snarked. “You are going with me, right?”

“Sure. If you want.”

“I want. It’ll save us both the trouble of finding some poor unsuspecting sucker to drag to a fancy shindig.”

“True. Speaking of suckers, don’t you have a date tonight?”

Zane glanced at his watch and then stretched his legs out on the bench so his shoe nudged my thigh. “I’ve got time. Talk to me. What else have you been up to lately? I noticed there’s a new exhibit at the Modern Museum. Have you gone? I think it’s a midcentury retrospective with Motherwell and de Kooning. I know you like the scribbly art and…”

His conversation was easy. The gentrified version of his former surfer dude accent had a lilting quality I could have listened to for hours. I felt myself truly begin to relax and let go of the invisible hold I’d had on my emotions, like a swimmer grasping onto a ledge who finally realizes he can reach the bottom of the pool. Being with someone who knew quirky details about me and accepted them without judgment or reservation was a gift.

I treasured all of my friends, but Zane was special. Our friendship was rooted in geography and history and now time. He wasn’t making a romantic advance when he asked me to attend Nick’s engagement party with him. That was latent wishful thinking on my part. Zane was simply being who he always was. My oldest and best friend.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have to confess that I’ve already listened to this audiobook half a dozen times since I received the review copy for it on Saturday. The fact that it’s just under three hours made it possible to do so, but the combination of Hayes’s wordsmithing and Clayton’s narration is what had me queuing it up repeatedly. Clayton does a wonderful job of bringing the characters in Leaning into Love to life. While I admit that on the first listen through, I did get confused as to who was who among the secondary characters a couple of times, but it had nothing to do with the narration as Clayton did an excellent job at creating a different voice for each of the characters. It had more to do with me failing to make the correct relationship connections in my head between the various characters – something that happens from time to time when I listen to audiobooks because I’m more of a visual learner than an auditory one. And in case you were wondering, it was Josh who I kept getting confused about the first time through; but upon the second listening, I had Josh’s place among the circle of friends figured out.

Clayton’s wonderful performance allowed me to fall into Eric and Zane’s story easily and I found myself fully invested in whether or not two men who had known one another for years, probably crushed on one another secretly for just as long, could take that step out of the friend-zone and into a romantic relationship. Their history and shared circle of friends made their desire to do so believable and made Eric’s fear of messing up a cherished friendship even more believable. It also prevented the story from having an insta-love feel to it and I had a front-row seat to the show as Eric became aware that Zane was interested in more, giving Eric the chance to finally acknowledge that he wanted more from Zane too. That it occurs alongside Eric having to deal with his ex-lover and still business partner’s machinations to orchestrate an unnecessary business merger of sorts gives the story a bit of an edge as I found myself wanting to slap the holy heck out of Nick on Eric’s behalf… several times… a good throttling would have worked as well. Honestly, who needs enemies when you have a friend like Nick? But it is Nick’s drama that bleeds into Eric and Zane’s budding relationship and threatens to destroy the bond the men are building. Fortunately for Eric, Zane has the patience of a saint, the persistence of a man in love, and a decade’s worth of knowledge about how Eric ticks, giving him the understanding and fortitude he needed to make Eric see that they were right for one another.

I absolutely loved the audiobook edition of Leaning into Love. Because the novella was originally published in a multi-author anthology, we don’t get to see the full development of Eric and Zane’s relationship. Instead, Hayes gives us a look at how two friends begin the journey to move from friends to lovers to (hopefully) partners. I enjoyed that the epilogue gives us a look at where Eric and Zane are a few months later and where their relationship is headed. But it was the bonus chapter that had me in stitches, howling with laughter and enjoying the chance to see a bit of the story from Zane’s point of view. I sincerely hope that plans are in the works for an audiobook edition of Leaning into the Fall and that Hayes will once again get Clayton to bring her characters and their story to life.

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Leaning into Love (Leaning Into Stories #1) by Lane Hayes, narrated by Seth Clayton to listen to and review for this tour.

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